Today I’m concentrating on looking at printmakers who depict land and urban scapes. Here are a few I’ve picked out to showcase:
Adelaide Elizabeth Perry 1891-1973
Adelaide Perry used lino for much of her printed images. The soft close-textured product was introduced in the 1920s and was easier to cut than wood and could also be printed without a press. Although born in Victoria, Australia, she travelled overseas, studying and exhibiting before settling in Sydney. The Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) has an extensive collection of her work where there is often an emphasis on coastal and harbour views.
Big bold flowing shapes to the left, essentially uncut lino, create a dominance in the foreground. The largest tree is shown particularly well with just a very thin white line where it overlaps other dense sections. It stands forward from the remainder of the composition which, as the imagery recedes, become more finely cut. A quite lovely example of simplification of the steamer and movement of water. And what about the clouds and sky, the buildings across the water and the lie of the land? There’s not one thing I can say about this print that is negative. An excellent example (to me) in simplifying a scene full of complex shapes and textures. Put her name into google images to see a large range of her work – it’s worth it.
Melissa A West
I know nothing about Melissa other than she is one of the nearly 6000 members of Linocut Friends, as am I. I’ve found google references for her name but it may not be the same person.
She has informed the group that this piece is an illustration for a book and I already have a feel for the content. Perhaps a mystery, a murder plot, a thriller? The image exudes tension, the drama of the shadows indicates night-time and I can sense the easiness of the light across the cobblestones.
Lovely carving, plenty of density in the remaining lino, the eye is forced down the alley to the somewhat creepy figure at the end, having already registered the partial (worried or anxious) face in the foreground.
The ratio of carved to non-carved areas seems about 40%-60%, with the image being well-balanced, and the story fully contained within its very narrow black border.
Margaret Preston 1875-1963
Anyone following my log will know how much I love the woodblock prints of Margaret Preston. Last week I visited the S H Ervin Gallery to view part of the Destination Sydney exhibition. It is over three venues and this gallery is showing Grace Cossington Smith, Cressida Campbell and Margaret Preston.
Above left, I am showing a postcard I bought of Frenchman’s Beach, Neutral Bay, a woodcut print from 1946, now owned by NGA. This is the first time I’ve seen this work (although it features in my catalogue of her work) in life. At 21 x 25.3cm it is a small but detailed carving. Many of her woodblocks were hand coloured, which results in quite a different outcome than those of Adelaide Perry even though they both explored similar visual themes.
I particularly like this print. The colour work is subtle but, even so, the black print doesn’t overwhelm the composition. There are huge areas she has almost totally cut away enabling lighter sections to balance against the composition. As I am reminded to do periodically throughout my course, she has left areas blank for the natural colour of the paper to show. I’d hang this in my house any day.
Above right, I’m showing one of my absolute favourites of her work: Circular Quay, hand-colour woodblock print from 1925, now owned by AGNSW, size 24.7 x 24.4cm. I’ve had this postcard for some time and I also have a larger picture of the work in her catalogue, but at the exhibition the piece was hanging on the wall. The pictures are great, the actual work is even better.
Again, I like the black border and when framed it still provides a ‘finish’ to the enclosed print. Hard to explain but I’m drawn to these borders in her work. This image has everything: trees indicating the Botanic Gardens, major buildings behind the quay, the wharf and ferries, and in the foreground the spire and pitched roofs of the old grain store – where I studied amongst the rafters every week for 2 years.
The tool work in this image is very varied; thick short stokes, fine line work, precise edgings to buildings, roof shading, tiny gouges for windows and spiky water markings. A lot of detail but still enough removed so it doesn’t appear cluttered and each aspect can be appreciated.
I’m still waiting for permission to use some other images so will edit this post when I receive replies to my requests.
S. H. Ervin Gallery – http://www.shervingallery.com.au/